Huntington Alloys Discharged Potentially Explosive Cat Fish Toxic Liquid from Pickle House in March 2013

If discharge escaped, it would be particularly harmful to catfish
If discharge escaped, it would be particularly harmful to catfish
File Photo Sarah Jeffers
A discharge March 13, 2013 at Huntington Alloys released discolored red wastewater, according to a certified letter from Bryan Bowen, then Environmental Supervisor of Huntington Alloys,  sent to Charlene DeBord, Huntington Sanitary Board Pretreatment Supervisor. The information was obtained from the WV Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to an HNN Freedom of Information Act request.

Documents and e-mails obtained suggest that the reddish material remained in the Huntington Sanitary Board Waste Treatment  pump station and/or facilities and  did not flow into other waters.

Described as Potassium Permanganate, an “unknown” amount overflowed from the process tank into the West Pickle House basement, the certified letter received March 21, 2013 stated. “Due to the volume overflowed it caused a substantial amount of the rinse water in the system to turn a ‘reddish’ color.”

The letter from Bowen continues, “During normal operations the material does enter the wastewater system in small quantities and is treated within our permitted limits. The facility does not believe that any permit limits were exceeded.”


On September 1, 2013 the Herald Dispatch published a story detailing a Draft Consent Order for various waste water violations at Huntington Alloys issued by HSB, including a reference to the Pickle Plant.

According to a Center for Disease Control chemical safety card, potassium Permanganate decomposes on heating producing toxic gases and irritating fumes and can cause fire and explosion hazards particularly if it comes into contact with powdered metals.

Depending upon amount and concentration, the substance can be can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of dust and by ingestion. Short term exposure may cause delayed lung oedema for which medical monitoring is necessary. Long term or repeated exposures effects the lungs resulting in bronchitis and pneumonia. A material safety data sheet states that the chemical can damage eye tissue on contact, can at room temperature irritate (or in high temperatures damage the skin) 

Bowen stated that “corrective action is currently being undertaken” to reduce the possibility of another spill. “Cold Draw Department Supervision is in the process of implementing a kicking procedure for the fill valve on the potassium Permanganate tank. The procedure will require the fill valve to be locked in place when not being used. In order to fill the tank , the operator will go to supervision and check out a key for the lock on the valve. This will increase accountability and greatly reduce the potential for overflow.”

Stressing the HSB's concern with public health, a cleaner city  and working together, Lou Akers, interim executive director, told HNN Monday, Sept. 23, said, he did not believe "brushing under the carpet" was the proper procedure. "The more we find out the better things are," Akers said.

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